One of the biggest advantages of VoIP is the low cost. The basic monthly fee is lower than PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) and the price also includes services such as call display and call forwarding that traditional telephone companies charge extra for.
If you would like to take advantage of the low cost and extra features of VoIP, you may decide to replace your traditional telephone service with VoIP services. Before cutting the line completely, however, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.
It may not be possible to keep your old telephone number when you switch to a VoIP service. If the service provider offers local phone numbers in your area, there’s a chance that you can keep your old phone number, but there is no guarantee. If this is important to you, check with both your telephone company and the VoIP service provider to make sure you keep your old number.
Having reliable 911 service is another consideration. Some VoIP service providers allow you to register your address in case you need to make an emergency call. This information is used to route the call to the correct emergency call center, but once you are connected the operator will not be able to determine your location if you are unable to speak. If emergency 911 services are necessary for you, you are advised to keep your existing phone line or a cell phone for emergency calls — at least until this snag has been worked out of the VoIP system.
You may also wish to keep a backup line in case of power outages. VoIP service can be sustained throughout a blackout with the use of battery backups, but during an extended blackout, the batteries will probably lose power. If your area experiences a lot of blackouts, it may be a good idea to keep a traditional phone line or a cell phone.
Despite these drawbacks, thousands of people are switching their phone systems over to VoIP. If you wish to follow suit, the first thing to do is to choose a VoIP service provider. There are many to choose from and most offer basic services like call forwarding, call waiting, and call display in their standard monthly fee. The real differences in providers are the rates they charge for long-distance or overseas calls. You should choose a plan which will be the most economical for the type of calling that you do.
Most VoIP service providers offer additional phone numbers in various locations. For example, you could have local phone numbers in several different cities allowing people in those cities to call you at any time for the cost of a local call. If you receive a lot of calls from a certain geographic location, make sure your VoIP service provider can give you a local phone number in that place.
When you sign up with a VoIP service provider they will usually supply an ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) which allows you to use your old analog telephones with VoIP. If you wish to buy your own equipment such as a router and an IP phone, you can probably get a better rate on the monthly fee charged by the service provider.
The basic equipment that you need for VoIP is a broadband modem (either cable or DSL), a router, and an IP phone. Some units are available which combine modem and router — these cut down on the amount of equipment necessary. A computer is not necessary but makes it more convenient to access your VoIP account.
Hooking up VoIP is easy — simply plug the router into the modem and plug the IP phone into the router. There is no need for service calls to get equipment installed.